When I was growing up, we always had a patch of rhubarb growing in the garden. I had no idea then how lucky we were to have those fresh, ruby red stalks right out the back door. Now when spring rolls around I hunt high and low to try and find fresh, reasonably priced rhubarb. I can occasionally find it in the grocery store, but it’s never quite as vibrantly red or as mouth-wateringly tart as the home-grown kind. Still, nothing says summer to me as clearly as a freshly baked rhubarb tart or warm rhubarb sauce poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. In fact, this recipe for Roasted Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam is inspired by the latter dessert, a favorite of my dad’s. I resisted the popular addition of strawberries to this jam because I like the pure tartness of rhubarb all by itself, but strawberries do add a brighter red hue that is appealing. You could easily substitute strawberries for half of the rhubarb in this recipe, just cut back on the sugar since strawberries are so sweet on their own. Either way, this is the perfect spread for warm biscuits or toast on an early summer morning.
- 1 pound rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 325ºF. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. On a large cookie sheet or half sheet pan, toss together the rhubarb, sugar and vanilla seeds along with the vanilla bean pod.
- Roast the rhubarb mixture in the preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring occasionally with a spoon. Jam is ready when all the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb is very soft and has released some juice.
- Scrape the roasted rhubarb into a mixing bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, mash the rhubarb until it forms a chunky jam. If you want a smoother texture, blend with a stick blender until smooth. Will keep refrigerated for a week or so.